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Does Doing Your Own Oil Change Void Your Warranty?

Rahmi Doğucan Ertane
November 16, 2022

It used to be easy to choose your car's oil ten or fifteen years ago. You could purchase a few bottles at the nearby auto parts store if you only knew the viscosity, such as 5W-30. But this ease is beginning to fade. 

Manufacturer oil specifications are receiving renewed attention due to General Motors' switch to a new oil specification for all of its vehicles manufactured in 2011 and after. Although GM is not the first to demand such a specification, its action indicates a shift in the car maintenance environment.

Do You Have to Use Manufacturer's Oil?

An automaker's oil specification is a unique mixture that it develops and requires to be used in its vehicles. In two mixes, Dexos1 for gasoline cars and Dexos2 for diesel, General Motors' oil product, Dexos, unifies its five previous recommended oil requirements.

GM and other automakers caution that using oils other than those recommended by the factory could void a car's warranty. 

Consumers who perform their own oil changes or take their vehicles to nearby technicians who might not be aware of the changes may also experience confusion and financial difficulties due to these oil requirements.

Although the oil in a modern engine may appear identical to that from a decade ago, it is much more sophisticated. For the past 60 years, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the International Lubricants Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC) have created the oil standards, which are updated every five years. Oil must alter to comply with stricter emissions requirements, provide better defense against sludge, and boost fuel efficiency.

Why Would Changing Your Own Oil Void Warranty?

Some owner's manuals contain language implying that using an oil different from the one recommended by the manufacturer will violate the vehicle's warranty. The burden of proving that an engine was harmed by a “not manufacturer oil” would fall to General Motors or another automaker under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. 

Dealers are breaking the law if they reject a warranty claim without first looking into it. Customers only need to ensure that any alternative oil they use is on par in quality with the oil recommended by the automaker. 

Many oil producers, including Valvoline, are so confident in the quality of their products that they provide their own warranty against any engine damage that might be attributed to it.

Use the oil recommended by the manufacturer for the warranty term if the mention of voiding warranties and engine damage gives you the willies. 

Remember that the drivetrain warranty covers a vehicle's engine (also known as the powertrain warranty). This typically outlasts the typical bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Neighborhood mechanics or quick-lube shops might not know the particular oil requirements for your car to your neighborhood mechanic or quick-lube shop. You can still visit these locations, but make sure to enquire beforehand about the type of oil they will use. For peace of mind, you might even bring your own oil.

How to Prove Oil Change for Warranty?

Since they are the ones who usually do the change, it would be very challenging to persuade your dealership that you genuinely had oil changes at the precisely needed intervals - 3,500 miles or 5,000 miles.

So, if you drive in for an oil-related warranty repair to a regular maintenance, you'd have to show that you changed the oil at the right mileage intervals and used the proper engine oil. Now, how do you maintain these records?

Many could recommend that you take a photo of your oil change receipt for warranty and place it in front of your odometer so that it is evident when the oil was changed and at what mileage.

That is a great concept, and you should consider using it for all future oil changes while the manufacturer's guarantee still covers the vehicle.

Make sure you save the receipt for the oils and filters you purchased (if you were the one doing your changes). Most of the time, there is no requirement that you submit documentation for oil changes if the issue with your automobile is not oil-related.

While oil changes are a must for every gas-powered vehicle, one of the most frequent questions auto owners have is "Does warranty cover oil changes?". However, most factory warranties or extended auto warranties do not cover the expense of oil changes.

Do You Need to be Serviced at the Dealership?

The following is all you need to keep in mind, putting aside arguments for and against the properties of manufacturer oil: You shouldn't worry as long as you stick to the oil parameters outlined in your owner's manual.

Know that the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act will protect you if the dealership tries to void your warranty due to using “not manufacturer oil”. You have more freedom to select your product if your vehicle doesn't have an oil standard. Finally, change the oil at the appropriate intervals and use the correct viscosity for your car.


Does Doing Your Own Oil Change Void Your Warranty?